Work to restore 1890 carriage to former glory finally complete
PUBLISHED: 12:06 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:15 31 July 2017
Local campaigner Robert Mouland pumped more than £9,000 of his own money into the project
Work to restore a Victorian lift in Folkestone has finally been completed, after a local campaigner pumped more than £9,000 of his own money into the project.
Robert Mouland wanted to see the carriage, which took passengers from the seafront up a stepp cliff on to the town’s popular The Leas, restored to its former glory as a permanent reminder of what was once a hugely popular attraction.
First opened in 1890, it was one of a pair of stepped lift carriages - which means the seats within were on different levels in order to climb the steep slope - which operated on the now disused lines alongside the Leas Lift, an 1885 cable car on tracks which was boarded up earlier this year.
The track and carriages were decommissioned in 1966 and subsequent restoration efforts suffered a number of setbacks, after the wrong timber was used, causing the step lift to decay.
In 2010, the carriage was restored by the 1890 Leas Lift Carriage Restoration Appeal but after work finished, it spent three years in a car park in the Grand Hotel in Folkestone.
As Mr Mouland put it: “No one wanted to find it a home.”
In 2013, however, the step lift was finally moved to the Elham Valley Railway Museum in Newington but began to deteriorate last year as the plywood which covered the exterior started to perish.
Mr Mouland then took matters into his own hands and has provided well over £9,000 from his own pocket for the project, which was completed and unveiled at a grand ceremony earlier this month, attended by around 75 people.
The campaigner was approached by residents in recent weeks, offering to donate the proceeds of a charity bike ride to the cause, however he declined, insisting he wanted to fund the project entirely himself.
Speaking to Kent News this week, Mr Mouland said: “Why should children have to spend £20 on history books when they can see the real thing?
“This way they have something real to enjoy when we are dead and gone.”